Archive

worldwide

Lord, be with Bijan, Reza and Dariash. Give them ears to hear what you are saying and eyes to see where you are. Transform their lives and the lives of their friends by your Spirit. Amen.

I sat down at a table one night in northern Paris for a community dinner; a free meal for those who are homeless. There was one thing that I noticed about the group, they were not white. They weren’t “french-French”. Through conversation I found out that there were almost entirely refugee’s from Afghanistan and Iran. This was where I met Reza. Reza was my age and had only been in France for 5 days. He came into France from Italy, clinging to the bottom of a train. Some of his friends had died trying this. He was a normal guy like myself, fleeing the oppressive dictatorship in Iran. He introduced me to two of his friends Bijan, who had been in France for 7 days and Dariash who had only been there 2 days. They met the day before I met them in a park.

Myself, Reza and Bijan.

Myself, Reza and Bijan in the park where they slept in Paris.

During the conversation I asked where they slept at night. “In the park.” Oh. As it turned out, there was a park called Jardin Villemin that was located beside the Gare de l’Est (train station) in Paris. Over 100 illegal Afghani and Iranian refugees slept in that park each night. That struck me as a place where Jesus would spend time. So we got the location of the park and said we would visit them the next day. We did and were overwhelmed with the number of refugees there. We were told that there were close to 2,000 refugees in the area. After staying for a while and talking we said we’d be back with clothes. The next day we came and handed out clothes. Many men gathered around and asked why we were doing this. We told them it was because God loves them and then we got the chance to pray with them. This was probably one of the highlights of the trip for me.

Pray for these men. Pray that God would grant them favour wherever they may end up and that the government would grant them refugee papers to stay. Pray for believers to inhabit the parks where these refugees stay and demonstrate God’s love while proclaiming the Gospel.

A side note: I asked Reza during our initial conversation if he was a Muslim. “No, Christian…Jehovah,” he replied. I got excited. He said he had been a Christian for 8 years. Then I asked Bijan and Dariash the same question and they also told me they were Christians. I asked for how long: “one day.” When I asked how they had become Christians Reza replied, “I told them.” Ok. Simple enough. He then reached into his bag and pulled out a magazine for me: The Watchtower. Initially it was kind of a downer. But then I realized something. All of the refugees that we met were nominal Muslims and were open to other possibilities. In fact, two of them became JW’s in a day simple because someone they had just met told them. I asked them why they left Islam and they told me that Islam was not good.

Paul and myself with some Afghani refugees in Jardin Villemin in Paris.

Paul and myself with some Afghani refugees in Jardin Villemin in Paris.

Lord, be with Bijan, Reza and Dariash. Give them ears to hear what you are saying and eyes to see where you are. Transform their lives and the lives of their friends by your Spirit. Send people to sow the seed of the Gospel in this fertile soil. May the Parisian Church hear Your words in: “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Eqypt,” (Ex. 22.21), and again: “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them wihout expecting to get anything back…be merciful, just as your Father is merciful,” (Lk. 6.35-36). Amen.

JT.

Advertisements

Well we’re back! Christina and I touched down at Lester B. Pearson in Toronto at about 2:00pm on Sunday. When you’re away for that length of time and living out of a suitcase it always feels great to be home. So much happened in our 3 weeks in France and Hungary that I couldn’t possibly highlight it all. However, despite that I’ll be writing a couple of posts highlighting particular things that really changed us.

We went to Europe with an amazing group of people from the Toronto area and Minneapolis (although they were dubbed honourary Canadians for the week!). The team was made up of the following people.

Howard, Caron and Patty Moore. Howard is the Canadian Director of Greater Europe Mission (GEM), Caron is his wife and Patty is one of their daughters who just so happens to be a Paramedic (this came in handy when a women fainted on one of our flights).

Paul, Vicky and David Burke. Paul and Vicky are pastors of Church in the City, Church in the Beach and Urban Cornerstone Church in Toronto and David is their son.

Flora. I’m not sure of Flora’s surname, so I won’t try but she is the mother of Vicky Burke.

Keith and Noreen Jacka. Keith and Noreen are a part of Church in the City and live downtown. They both have their Ph.D’s in education.

Kathryne Silver. Kathryn was a last minute addition to the team. She’s 18 and will be going into her second year at Tyndale this fall.

Peter Goulos. Peter is a part of Church in the Beach and works for RBC in downtown Toronto. He is Greek and hilarious.

Casi and Andy Buch. This couple is from Minneapolis and are quite fun to be around. They’re moving to Spain on September 16th so that Casi can teach English for a year in Madrid. Their last name means ‘book’.

All of these people were so great and we really enjoyed getting to know them over 3 weeks! We look forward to hanging out more.

Everyone came from different experiences and walks of life, but we all love Jesus and had at least that in common. There were 18 year old college students and retired Doctors. Bankers and Pastors. Singles and married folk. However, these differences only made us stronger as a Body.

Myself, Andy, Kathryne, David, Christina and Casi in front of the Gare de Flandres station in Lille. A little blurry, I know.

L-R: Myself, Andy, Kathryne, David, Christina and Casi in front of the Gare de Flandres station in Lille. A little blurry, I know.

Patty, Flora, Paul, Caron, Peter and Vicky.

L-R: Patty, Flora, Paul, Caron, Peter and Vicky trying to figure out where to go in Vienna, Austria.

Howard, Keith and Noreen at Basilique du Sacré-Cœur in Paris, France.

L-R: Howard, Keith and Noreen at Basilique du Sacré-Cœur in Paris, France.

Peter, myself and David at the GEM Conference in Sopron, Hungary.

L-R: Peter, myself and David at the GEM Conference in Sopron, Hungary.

We love you guys!

Grace and peace.

JT

Hey all!

Just a quick hello. Christina and I are in Sopron, Hungary at the moment attending a conference with Greater Europe Mission. Essentially we’ve been hanging out with over 300 missionaries from all over Europe and hearing their stories. It has been way greater than I was experiencing. Being here and talking with these people from across Europe and participating in discussions is really getting me excited to return to Canada and change some things in regards to youth ministry in Aurora. I’ll share more on this later. Hearing peoples stories is incredible. I mean, in North America we hear loads about how we’re living in post-Christendom. But let me tell you, Europe is POST-Christian. Yet God is doing cool stuff through His Church here on the fringes of society in Europe.

Monday, we head back to Paris which I’m pumped about. We biked around Sopron the other day and got stuck in the pouring rain. Nice.

Anyways, just a quick hello and update.

PEACE.

JT

Lot’s has been happening lately which partially explains why I haven’t written much. From June 27 – July 7 Christina and I took a group of 9 students and 1 other leader out to Glace Bay, Nova Scotia to work alongside Dave and Shirley Sawler. I’ll write more on this later.

———-

This past week we held the first ever Cornerstone Sports Camp: Foundations for Life and Sports. This was a sports camp put on for kids in the Aurora community. A lot of work went into this and it turned out to be a great week. We ran baseball in the morning at a local park and then basketball in the afternoons at a local high school. The kids all had a great time and it was really fun getting to know and spend time with them. Definately look forward to doing this again next summer. Kudos to all of our volunteer coaches and team leaders!

———-

This evening Christina and I headed down to Church in the Beach to hang out with the Burkes and the local Body there. It was quite the evening. The group of people that we are heading over to Europe with include the Burkes and some people from the faith community in the Beach so we gathered there as a sort of ‘send-off’. It was great. I really love worshiping with the folks at CITB because they all seem so free from pretense. No one pretends that they have everything figured out. The leadership isn’t convinced that they are the most dynamic leaders the world has seen. It’s refreshing. There was probably about 30 people that were there last evening. Most evangelicals would likely chuckle upon hearing that number but I tell you, God was present.

Howard Moore, the Canadian Director for Greater Europe Mission preached about the mission of Jesus. We looked at how/why the Father sent the Son into the world and the impact that this had on the Church being sent into the world. Great stuff. Afterwards we had a time of prayer for those of us heading to Europe.

Then came the party. After our gathering everyone, and I mean everyone, headed back to the Burke residence and partied. Food, drinks, converstation…the whole bit. Why party? Well one of the women that has been a part of this community since 2001 has been a refugee in Canada since 1999. Just this past week she won her immigration case and was granted refugee status! Great! Paul asked her if she had anything she wanted to say. “I won!” was her cry. Then from the back of the room came this: “We all won!” Wow. This really hit home. How wonderful. This woman did not win this case by herself. Rather, the entire community won and was granted refugee status. At times like this I realize how true Paul’s words are: “so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others,” (Rom. 12.5) and “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of your is a part of it,” (1 Cor. 12.26-27).

———-

This Friday Christina and I along with a group of others head over to France and Hungary for 3 weeks. Essentially the break down of our time looks like this: we’ll spend a week in Sopron, Hungary at a conference for church planters from all across Europe. I’m super stoked for this and can’t wait to learn from these people. Then we’ll head back to Paris, France for a week where we will try and be Jesus on the streets there. Finally, we’ll take the train up to Lille, France to try and be Jesus on the streets there. What’s really cool about Lille is that it is about 60% muslim. This is one of the cities where there were riots between muslim youth and police a couple of years ago so I’m pretty excited to walk those streets. I’ll try and update with pictures and stories from along the journey.

Grace and peace.

JT

I’ve just begun reading William T. Cavanaugh’s latest book, Being Consumed. Cavanaugh begins by stating that those Christians who understand that what we do with our money and our stuff  “should be directly informed by how we relate to God,” often remain in a reactive posture towards economics. In other words, we tend to take current economic realities as givens and then figure out what our stance ought to be on these givens. However, Cavanaugh argues that, “Christians themselves are called to create concrete alternative practices that open up a different kind of economic space—the space marked by the body of Christ,” (Cavanaugh, viii).

In the first chapter, ‘Freedom and Unfreedom’, Cavanaugh argues against Milton Friedmans idea that transactions are free insofar as they are “bi-laterally voluntary and informed,” and free from external coercion (Cavanaugh, 2). In other words, the typical idea of freedom is pursuing whatever you want without interference from others. However, as Cavanaugh points out, Augustine (where Cavanaugh gets most of his argument from in the opening chapter) has a much more complex view of freedom. Freedom, “is not simply a negative freedom from, but a freedom for, a capacity to achieve certain worthwhile goals. All of those goals are taken up into the one overriding telos of human life, the return to God,” (Cavanaugh, 7-8). Therefore, freedom is about being wrapped up in the will of God, the condition of human freedom. Autonomy has no place here.

So, freedom isn’t simple freedom from something, but it is freedom for something. This for, this telos of all human life, is our return to God where all of humanity will flourish. Coming back to desire, there is such thing as true desires and false desires. We all know this. We all know what it’s like to really desire something and then find out that it is an empty desire. We desire loads of things, however, our one true desire is for God. When surrounded by a sea of desire we need a telos (or an end) to tell the difference between true and false desires. This telos, as stated, is our return to God where all of humanity will flourish. This will inform our decisions and enable us to tell the difference between true and false desire. If a desire leads towards the flourishing of humanity then it is a good and right desire. However, if not, then the desire ought to be regarded as false. We need to know whether our will is moved toward a good end or not. “The key to true freedom is not just following whatever desires we happen to have, but cultivating the right desires,” (Cavanaugh, 11).

We must ask ourselves why we desire. Desiring with no good other than desire itself is to desire arbitrarily. “To desire with no telos, no connection to the objective end of desire, is to desire nothing and to become nothing,” (Cavanaugh, 14). In other words, sometimes we have urges to desire things at the bottom end of the scale of good, and in so doing we abandon the higher and supreme goods, that is God, his law and his truth, (Augustine, Confessions, p.30). Cavanaugh gives the following example: In America, an addiction to shopping claims more than 10% of the population, and 20% of women (more than drugs and alcohol combined). A person buys something trying to fill the hole “and once the shopper purchases the thing, it turns into a nothing, and she has to head back to the mall to continue the search. With no objective ends to guide the search, her search is literally endless,” (Cavanaugh, 15).

Augustine argues for objective ends to guide our will, so who is to say what those ends are? We must know that some goods are objectively better than other goods or the movement of our will can only be arbitrary. For the majority of the population it is marketing/advertising or large corporations that guides their wills. This is unfair because there is an imbalance of power here between the marketer and the consumer (Thereby ruling the exchange unfree, even by Friedman’s standards). You can see the problems that arise here. However, what ought to guide our wills is a positive view of freedom that takes into account the good ends of human life.

Finally, there is a link between property and freedom. Aquinas argues that the ownership of property is natural to human beings and allows them to develop their own capacities. Hilaire Belloc argues that property is thus essential to human freedom, however, he does not argue that the ownership of property is about power, rather, that property has an end, which is to serve the common good (Cavanaugh, 29). As Aquinas argues, the universal destination of all material goods is in God. We should regard property as a gift from God, a gift that is only valid if we use it for the benefit of others. Thus, Aquinas sanctions private ownership only insofar as it is put to its proper end, which is the good of all: “Man ought to possess external things, not as his own, but as common, so that, to wit, he is ready to communicate them to others in their need,” (Aquinas, Summa, II-II.66.2).

So, as we make exchanges that we call free, let us call to account a truer understanding of freedom. Do our exchanges lead towards the flourishing of life on earth? I leave you with these two quotes:

“The key point is that the freedom of each economic exchange is subject to judgment based on a positive account of freedom, which must take into account the good ends of human life,” (Cavanaugh, 26).

“What is most important is the direct embodiment of free economic practices. From a Christian point of view, the churches should take an active role in fostering economic practices that are consonant with the true ends of creation. This requires promoting economic practices that maintain close connections among capital, labor, and communities, so that real communal discernment of the good can take place. Those are the spaces in which true freedom can flourish,” (Cavanaugh, 32).

Grace and Peace.

jt.

christina and i have some cool things happening this summer.

1st of all, we’re taking a group of 10 students out to glace bay, nova scotia for 10 days from june 27-july 7. we’ll be working with dave and shirley sawler who are planting churches in cape breton. we’re really excited about this and it’s so cool to see the students getting excited as well. pray that God would continue to guide our steps.

2nd, we have this amazing opportunity.  for 3 weeks in august we’re heading to europe with greater europe mission to get our feet wet in the area of church planting, or as david fitch puts it, “seeding missional communities.” this is an area that christina and i have felt like the Lord might be leading us towards. we’ll spend the first week in hungary at a gathering of GEM’s church planters from all over europe. awesome. then the second two weeks will be spent walking the streets of paris getting a feel for the people there and getting involved in different things that God is doing there. here’s the kicker, all of our expenses are paid for. flights, trains, food, shelter. it’s paid. cool. so needless to say we’re pretty excited about this. i’ll be talking to the staff at church about this next week so be praying that they are supportive of this incredible chance we have.

it’s a lovely friday. get off the internet and go play.

peace.

that’s the swahili word for ‘children’. it’s also the name of a ministry in uganda that cares for parentless kids. kids whos parents have been killed by AIDS/war. read more about what watoto does HERE.

they have a choir that travels around singing and raising awareness. tomorrow evening the ‘concert of hope’ comes to ACC. the kids hang out and have dinner with us and then the concert takes place in the evening. the children spend the night at different ‘host’ homes within the congregation.

now here is the sweet part. on wednesday morning all 18 of the kids are coming to the church at 9am until their bus picks them up at 11am. this means i have 2 hours in the morning to hang out with all of these amazing kids! i think i’m going to try to find a couple of nintendo wii’s to hook up and play sports with the kids!

SO, if you have a nintendo wii and would like to donate it to us for a couple of hours on wednesday morning so i can play with a group rad kids from uganda then please PLEASE let me know! we’ll take great care of your wii i promise!

peace.